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Melissa Mark-Viverito

Melissa Mark-Viverito

  • Much Agreement on Need for Bail Reform, But Little Movement

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    On Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)


    There is an ongoing conversation in New York about how to fix the bail system that many agree is broken, keeping too many poor people in jail after they are arrested for low-level nonviolent offenses but cannot afford to post bond and, at times, allowing individuals back onto the street who are prone to violence but able to pay bail. Efforts at reform have been full of fits and starts.

    About a month ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced measures to make

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  • City Council Bail Fund Continues Slow Path to Reality

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo via flickr)


    The City Council’s long-awaited public bail fund, a project spearheaded by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, is one step closer to being operational after receiving another required approval from state authorities.  

    Mark-Viverito announced the plan to create a $1.4 million

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  • 22 Campaign Finance Bills to Move Through City Council 'Soon,' Speaker Says

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    Speaker Mark-Viverito (photo: @NYCCouncil)


    Within the next two months, the City Council is expected to vote on a large legislative package that would alter the city’s campaign finance system in a variety of ways and regulate donations to political nonprofits, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said this week. Some of the proposals and the timing of their likely passage have raised concerns, though, that the Council is weakening the city’s model campaign finance system, pushing some reforms through after too long a wait and rushing other, newer bills through just in time for the next

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  • City Council Women's Caucus Rallies for Equity Legislation

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    Equality rally at City Hall (photo via Council Member Cumbo)


    The Women’s Caucus of the New York City Council announced a legislative package Tuesday aimed at equal rights and opportunities for women. With an “equality rally” outside City Hall before the full Council held a meeting at which some of the bills were introduced, legislators, advocates, and service providers expressed support for the legislation and argued for its necessity in light of Donald Trump’s election as President.

    The co-chairs of the Women’s Caucus, Council

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  • Facing Reality, City Leaders Reassess 'Trump Effect'

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    Mark-Viverito at Trump Tower (photo: Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)


    Local elected officials continue to take stock of what a Trump presidency might mean for New York City, and with budget season around the corner, only one word can describe their feelings: uncertainty.

    Mayor Bill de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are all waiting to see what President-elect Donald Trump will actually do when he takes office in January. Trump, a Republican, made many campaign promises that alarmed city officials, who are almost all

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  • City Council Hears Legislative Package on Conflicts of Interest and Campaign Finance

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    Henry Berger testifying (photo: John McCarten/City Council)


    The City Council heard testimony Monday on a broad package of bills that would prevent conflicts of interest between elected officials and political nonprofits, limit the electoral influence of those who do business with the city, and make it easier for first-time candidates to navigate the city’s campaign finance system.

    The Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics heard 14 bills on Monday in what was the current Council’s first hearing of the committee focused on legislation. Of the 14, the headlining bill,

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  • Fair Share: Design Flaws, Flashpoints & Possible Updates

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    Trucks (photo: Sofie Hecht/Gotham Gazette)


    This is part two of a two-part series on the city’s Fair Share rules. Read part one: City May Soon Have More Formal ‘Fair Share’ Discussion

    Fair Share Flawed from the Beginning, Some Say
    Ronald Shiffman, now professor emeritus at the Pratt Institute and co-founder of Pratt’s Center for Community Development, was appointed to the newly-expanded City Planning Commission in

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  • City May Soon Have More Formal ‘Fair Share’ Discussion

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    A recycling center in the Bronx (photo: Sofie Hecht for Gotham Gazette)


    For months, residents and elected officials from Wakefield in the Bronx protested a de Blasio administration proposal to site a homeless shelter in the neighborhood. They were concerned that the community would be overburdened by yet another shelter within a four-block radius, decreasing public safety and hurting “quality of life.” On August 15, the administration dropped its proposal, giving residents occasion to rejoice, while sending the City back to the drawing board.

    A similar

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  • Ahead of Election Year, De Blasio Must Name New Campaign Finance Board Chair

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    Mayor Bill de Blasio (photo: Ed Reed, Mayor's Office)


    With the impending departure of the head of the city’s campaign finance regulatory body, good government advocates say Mayor Bill de Blasio must be careful about who he chooses to fill the position as the city heads into an election year.

    “The chair of the campaign finance board is probably the single most important player in government ethics,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney at the New York Public Interest Research Group, a government reform organization.

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  • Bill de Blasio Versus NIMBYism

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    Mayor de Blasio at a town hall (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In recent weeks, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies have run up against an age-old forces of inertia and resistance in the city, especially one that springs forth in policy debates on everything from housing to bike lanes to school desegregation and even closing down Rikers Island jails. That force -- NIMBY or Not In My Back Yard-ism -- has taken distinct forms on different issues, but has been causing the de Blasio administration trouble and frustrating the mayor. At

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  • At Rivington Hearing, Discussion of Extent of City Hall Mismanagement

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    First Deputy Mayor Shorris testifies (photo: William Alatriste)


    Over the course of a Thursday oversight hearing lasting more than six hours, top officials from the de Blasio administration attempted to explain to the City Council all the missteps that led to a Lower East Side AIDS hospice being sold to a luxury condominium developer with virtually no public benefit.

    Council Member Ben Kallos, chair of the governmental operations committee, said early in the hearing, “Something went very wrong here and we must address issues

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  • Inside 311, the City’s ‘Front Door’ to Government

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    311 in 2013 (photo via the Mayor's Office on Flickr)


    The vast LED board updated in real-time: 36,529 calls since midnight, it said for a late-afternoon moment one August day. Perched in a high-ceilinged room in Lower Manhattan, the board tallied work done and signified work to be done, with numbers jumping every few seconds as the New York City 311 call center buzzed with the steady hum of staff members speaking into headsets.

    “Hello, and thank you for calling NYC 311.”

    “Did you

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  • Vigilance in the Fight Against Islamophobia

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    Daneek Miller, left, & Melissa Mark-Viverito, the authors (photo: William Alatriste)


    In New York, we have always embraced diversity. We strive to make sure that everyone feels welcome—no matter their race, faith, or background. This has never been more important for Muslim Americans, who have been the target of vicious political attacks during this election cycle.

    This month, Muslim Americans across the country and in New York City will be celebrating Eid al-Adha. As our fellow community members observe this important religious holiday amidst a

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  • Council to Hear Bill Mandating Publication of NYPD Patrol Guide

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    City Council Member Garodnick, in NYPD hat, & colleagues (photo: William Alatriste)


    A bill introduced by City Council Member Dan Garodnick to require the NYPD to publish its patrol guide online will be heard for the first time by the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety next week. The hearing, set for Thursday, September 15, follows shortly on the recent controversy over the Right to Know Act, a package of police reform legislation that Council Speaker Melissa

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  • Full Interview: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito

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    City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    Gotham Gazette's Ben Max interviewed City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito on Thursday, August 25, 2016 at City Hall. Below is the audio of the interview, the first in a new Gotham Gazette podcast, Policymakers - find us on iTunes.

    Below the audio is the full transcript of the interview. Let us know what you think: email Ben at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript

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  • Mark-Viverito: New York City is ‘Heading in the Right Direction’

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    Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    New York City is well on its way to correcting the policies of 20 years of Republican rule, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said during an interview last week. Discussing her time as Speaker, upcoming priorities, working with Mayor Bill de Blasio, and more, Mark-Viverito spoke with Gotham Gazette at length in the Speaker’s office at City Hall.

    On a relatively quiet August Thursday, Mark-Viverito addressed a wide range of topics, from her approach to leading the Council through

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  • With No Clear Next Election, Council Speaker Raises and Spends

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    Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (photo: William Alatriste)


    As the calendar hurtles toward 2017, one of the big New York City political questions is what the future holds for Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the City Council. Mark-Viverito will be term-limited out of office at the end of next year and while she has indicated that she may continue to be active in city politics, there is no clear next step for her, especially in terms of elected office.

    Mark-Viverito, a Democrat, told ...

  • For 2017 Effect, Time Running Out for Campaign Finance Bills in Limbo

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    above: Melissa Mark-Viverito; below: Ben Kallos (photos by William Alatriste)


    New York City’s campaign finance system, particularly its public matching funds program, is considered a national model, and it stays that way by being regularly updated and modernized. The Campaign Finance Board issues reports following each election analyzing ways to plug holes in the system and bolster the already-robust provisions of the relevant law.

    But, the next city election cycle, in 2017, may come and go without any

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  • Next Steps for City Council Member's Alleged Ticket Fix

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    Council Member Gibson (photo: William Alatriste)


    In trying to avoid a traffic ticket more than two years ago, City Council Member Vanessa Gibson might have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    The New York Daily News reported on Monday that Gibson, chair of the Council’s public safety committee, used her influence to get out of trouble when she was pulled over in March 2014 for talking on her cell

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  • Procedural Move Could Lead to Vote on Right to Know Act

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    A Right to Know Act rally


    Last week, City Council Members Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso sent out a joint statement in which they addressed the ramifications of the impending retirement of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton. “With the departure of William Bratton,” the statement reads, “we are reminded that administrative agreements are every bit as short-lived as commissioners themselves, coming and going in the moments we least expect.”

    The Council members were referring to an agreement between

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  • Change of Commissioner Spotlights De Blasio’s Record on Police Reform

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    photo: Demetrius Freeman/Mayor's Office


    Many believe that the biggest responsibility of the Mayor of New York City is to keep people safe and Bill de Blasio has largely done that, in no small part by letting his lightning-rod police commissioner, Bill Bratton, call the shots on public safety policy. The mayor has focused on pre-kindergarten and affordable housing while Bratton has governed the streets, helping bring crime down to historic lows. At the same time, Bratton has led an evolution of sorts

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  • Bill Bratton Announces Retirement from NYPD, to be Replaced by James O'Neill

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    De Blasio, Bratton, O'Neill, & Gomez (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)


    Bill Bratton, commissioner of the New York Police Department, announced his retirement from the NYPD on Tuesday, ushering in new leadership at the department he has shaped over the course of several decades. At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Bratton will be replaced by Chief of Department James O’Neill, who has been a long-time member of the NYPD, rising through its ranks to now fill

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  • Current Providers Welcome Addition of Coming City Bail Fund

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    Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and Council members (photo: William Alatriste)


    Last year, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s office began seeking state approval for a public bail fund to keep poor low-level offenders out of jail, with Mark-Viverito citing the costs even a short jail stay can have on both lives and city funds. Now, after almost a year-and-a-half, the convoluted process of establishing the bail fund as a charity and obtaining a state license to run it appears to be nearing an end.

    Mark-Viverito touted the

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  • Right to Know Act is Progress We Need Now

    Jason Salmon

    The author, center


    I’m lying awake at 4 a.m. wondering if our calls for justice will ever be answered. The evening before I was marching in midtown, protesting the tragic killing of Alton Sterling. It’s been 17 months since the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice and two years since Eric Garner’s death by suffocation at the hands of police. Even with cell phone cameras making this deadly reality no longer something we can ignore, justice remains elusive.

    Lying awake, scrolling through Instagram, I noticed a lot of people liking and re-

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  • Calls Grow for New Council-Led Deed Restriction Process

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    Chin, Mark-Viverito, Brewer (l-r) at Wednesday's presser (photo: William Alatriste)


    Armed with the findings of a newly-released investigation that faults City Hall for a “lack of accountability,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Margaret Chin called for reform to the city’s deed restriction removal process at a press conference on Wednesday outside City Hall.

    In a show of strength and seriousness, Brewer and Chin were joined by Public Advocate Letitia James,

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